privacy

1 posts
One leaked file, the location of 12 million smartphones

A file leaked to The New York Times contained location traces of 12 million unique smartphones. Stuart A. Thompson and Charlie Warzel went digging: The data set is large enough that it surely points to scandal and crime but our purpose wasn’t to dig up dirt. We wanted to document the risk of underregulated surveillance. Watching dots move across a map sometimes revealed hints of faltering marriages, evidence of drug...

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Amazon stores voice recordings indefinitely

Alfred Ng for CNET: Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in May, demanding answers on Alexa and how long it kept voice recordings and transcripts, as well as what the data gets used for. The letter came after CNET’s report that Amazon kept transcripts of interactions with Alexa, even after people deleted the voice recordings. The deadline for answers was June...

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Readability of privacy policies for big tech companies

For The New York Times, Kevin Litman-Navarro plotted the length and readability of privacy policies for large companies: To see exactly how inscrutable they have become, I analyzed the length and readability of privacy policies from nearly 150 popular websites and apps. Facebook’s privacy policy, for example, takes around 18 minutes to read in its entirety – slightly above average for the policies I tested. The comparison is between websites...

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Facial recognition machine for $60

For The New York Times, Sahil Chinoy on privacy and how easy it is now to automate surveillance through public video feeds: To demonstrate how easy it is to track people without their knowledge, we collected public images of people who worked near Bryant Park (available on their employers’ websites, for the most part) and ran one day of footage through Amazon’s commercial facial recognition service. Our system detected 2,750...

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Build a parasite to block your digital assistant

Digital assistants offer convenience, but they also offer continuous surveillance, and it’s not always clear when the tech is listening. Alias by Bjørn Karmann is a device you put on top of the assistant the block any unwanted listening: Alias acts as a middle-man device that is designed to appropriate any voice activated device. Equipped with speakers and a microphone, Alias is able to communicate and manipulate the home assistant...

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Apps gather your location and then sell the data

The New York Times takes a closer look at the data that apps collect and what they know about you: At least 75 companies receive anonymous, precise location data from apps whose users enable location services to get local news and weather or other information, The Times found. Several of those businesses claim to track up to 200 million mobile devices in the United States — about half those in...

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Reduced privacy risk in exchange for accuracy in the Census count

Mark Hansen for The Upshot describes the search for balance between individual privacy and an accurate 2020 Census count. It turns out to not be that difficult to reconstruct person-level data from publicly available aggregates: On the face of it, finding a reconstruction that satisfies all of the constraints from all the tables the bureau produces seems impossible. But Mr. Abowd says the problem gets easier when you notice that...

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Millions of internet-connected TVs track viewing habits

Sapna Maheshwari for The New York Times on Samba TV software running on smart televisions: Once enabled, Samba TV can track nearly everything that appears on the TV on a second-by-second basis, essentially reading pixels to identify network shows and ads, as well as programs on HBO and even video games played on the TV. Samba TV has even offered advertisers the ability to base their targeting on whether people...

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When surveillance turns into stalking

Many surveillance apps cater to parents who want to keep tabs on their children who have mobile phones. Many of these apps are used for less parental purposes. Jennifer Valentino-DeVries for The New York Times reports: More than 200 apps and services offer would-be stalkers a variety of capabilities, from basic location tracking to harvesting texts and even secretly recording video, according to a new academic study. More than two...

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Every document copy stored on used digital photocopiers

CBS News picked up four used photocopiers and looked at the hard drives. There was a lot of private information stored in them: Nearly every digital copier built since 2002 contains a hard drive – like the one on your personal computer – storing an image of every document copied, scanned, or emailed by the machine. In the process, it’s turned an office staple into a digital time-bomb packed with...

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